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Harvard University McKinlock Hall Historic Lighting Restoration Complete

Harvard University – McKinlock Hall Historic Lighting Restoration Complete

In the mid-1920s, Harvard constructed student residences on the banks of the recently dammed Charles River, residences initially occupied by freshmen. McKinlock Hall, built in 1925, was one of those original buildings. The building was donated by the family of Lieut. George Alexander McKinlock Jr., a Harvard graduate who was killed by a German machine gun near Soissons in 1918. The bulk of McKinlock Hall consists of 5 entryways, each of which leads to four or five floors of suites for approximately 35 students. McKinlock also serves as the center of Leverett social life: it houses the Leverett Dining Hall, the Junior and Senior Common Rooms, the Old Library Theatre, the Master’s Residence, and several other common spaces.

Grand Light restored 57 of the historic fixtures in McKinlock Hall located on the the Harvard University Campus in Cambridge, MA. There are several different types of fixtures ranging from chandeliers, wall sconces, ceiling mounted fixtures, pendant lights, and outdoor lanterns. These fixtures underwent different restoration techniques ranging from cleaning and conservation of the existing finishes, to complete refinishing. All fixtures were wired in accordance with UL standards.

Of the 57 Fixtures that were restored by Grand Light, The fixtures listed below were some of the more unique and special fixtures to this property.Type_AE07pre.jpg

Shown above is the first floor library chandelier in the condition it was received by Grand Light. This glorious fixture was dusty, pitted, and missing several crystal strands.



Shown above is the completed first floor library chandelier. Grand Light artisans
replicated several crystal strands and replaced missing crystal components, the
entire fixture was rewired, and multiple applications of brass rub patina and
museum grade wax were required to blend in with the original finish.



Shown is the first floor dining room chandelier in the condition it was received by Grand Light. Complete failure in the existing top coat resulted in severe darkening of the silver plated components.  This fixture was disassembled and hand polished to revel the original silver finish. It included the removal of the existing lacquer, cleaning of the components, the hand polishing of each component, and multiple applications of UV resistant clear high gloss lacquer.


Shown above is a chandelier arm being dipped in a unique chemical formula used to strip the lacquer and remove foreign material from the surface to reveal the exquisite original silver finish.



Shown above are three of eighteen traditional chandelier arms before and after being stripped of the failing top coat, and after the intense hand polishing of each arm to aid the newly revealed original silver plated finish and accentuate the elaborate metal accents.



Shown above are some of the chandelier components after they had gone thru the entire restoration process. Grand Light artisans diligently fed each wire from one end of the arm to the other, carefully avoiding any pinching or damage to the wire.



Shown above is the bottom of the chandelier where all of the wires from both tiers, and to the top canopy, connect. All wiring by Grand Light is clean, and all connections are heat shrunk to protect from debris entering the connection, in addition to zip ties to ensure a secure strain relief connection. All main
power feeds were enclosed in color matching silicon coated fiberglass sleeving.



Shown is the first floor dining room chandelier restored to its original glory.


Shown is the masters house chandelier in the condition it was received by Grand Light. The work required to restore this fixture would include cleaning the considerable amount of dust and grime accumulated, reattaching arms that had been separated from the pots, and re-pinning crystal strands.



Shown is the masters house chandelier restored and sparkling as it had done a long time ago. This fixture was completely re-wired, cleaned, and all mechanical repairs were made. Damaged crystal strands were re-pinned and replaced as necessary.


Shown above is an exterior courtyard entrance wall mounted lantern in the condition it was received by Grand Light. This lantern’s finish has deteriorated and required the removal of the old paint through media blasting.


Shown above are wall mounted lanterns mounting brackets after arrival at Grand Light.  The surface of the brackets were media blasted to remove all old paint and foreign material in preparation for an application of semi gloss black paint. The brackets were bent and required artisans to carefully adjust each bracket to be plumb and level.


Shown above are the exterior lanterns after an application of primer in preparation for a new finish. In order to restore this fixture, artisans applied a beautiful new semi gloss black paint and multiple applications of UV resistant protective lacquer top coat.


Shown above are the wall lantern mounting brackets after a beautiful application of satin black paint to color match the lantern refinish. Multiple UV resistant protective layers of lacquer top coat is applied to each bracket.


Shown above are two restored exterior wall mounted lanterns after installation at a McKinlock Hall courtyard entrance.


Shown is a unique wall mounted sconce and window combination located in the courtyard entrance in its original condition prior to arrival at Grand Light. This fixture has sustained a great deal of damage from the elements and age. The work required to restore this fixture includes applying a new finish to the lantern which will be a semi gloss black paint and an application of a UV resistant protective lacquer top coat. The window, transom, portion is to have all of the existing white paint removed and it is to be primed. The severely damaged lead frame which makes up this window is to be repaired and recreated in areas where repair is not an option.


Shown above is the fixture portion while a unique chemical process was used to lift the original paint off of the fixture. This surface preparation is done in anticipation of applying a beautiful semi gloss black finish. Multiple UV resistance protective lacquer top coat is applied to protect the new finish.



Shown above is the original frame of the fixture after being removed to allow replication of the glass and lead came circular motif. Due to the irreparable state of the frame, Grand Light artisans would have to fabricate an entirely new lead came frame.


Shown above are formed and cut strips of lead came and glass. Custom templates were created to reproduce original pattern of the glass. It was necessary to make sure all glass cuts precisely matched against its connecting lead came for a firm fit.



Shown above are the lead came and glass frame after installation with the post lacquer semi gloss black patina sconce. This is the front portion of the fixture which faces the quad of the Mckinlock Hall


Shown above is the interior portion of the restored fixture and transom.

Tyoe_Aex02.jpgShown above is the exterior portion of the restored fixture and transom.

Type_Aex032.jpgShown above is an exterior ceiling mounted hanging lantern that was located at the McKinlock Hall courtyard entrance. This lantern’s finish has been damaged due to age and the elements leaving a less desired look.

Type_AEX03wip.jpgIn order to restore these lanterns, Grand Light artisans had to remove the existing deteriorated finish and refinish the fixture with an application of an elegant satin black paint. Multiple UV resistant protective coats of lacquer was applied to provide a durable layer of protection while the paint cured.

Type_AEX03post.jpgShown above is a restored ceiling mounted lantern before installation at the McKinlock Hall courtyard entrance. This fixture had all missing and damaged glass replaced with glass panels that had been media blasted by Grand Light artisans to provide the pane with greater lamp diffusion and reduce glare.

For more information Regarding this project and the fixture types, you may review the project Homepage at Harvard University – McKinlock Hall Historic Lighting Restoration

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